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2011 Spring Training: Pirates To Decide On Closer Before Exhibition Games Begin

Before Grapefruit League games begin in a couple weeks, the Pirates will decide whether Evan Meek or Joel Hanrahan will be their closer - and it will be one or the other, as the two won't be sharing the job.

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This will be a decision that could impact your fantasy team, but it probably make much of a difference if you're trying to project how the season will go; Meek and Hanrahan are both solid closer options. Hanrahan, who is the closer of the two to free agency, has the edge. 

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The club will also be waiting on a couple of injured pitchers, Donnie Veal and Kevin Hart. Veal, who had Tommy John surgery, wasn't expected to be ready for spring training anyway, but it sounds like Hart has been delayed a bit. Although the Pirates are holding out hope that he could be ready for opening day, he isn't throwing yet after tearing his labrum last year, so I highly doubt he'll be ready for major-league games before June or so. My guess is that his season will begin with a stint on the disabled list, followed by a few weeks of rehab in the minors. Hart has struggled since coming over in a trade with the Cubs a couple years ago, so I doubt Pirates fans will miss him much.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.